Presented on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 in the Barn at Quarry Farm as part of the 2019 Fall Trouble Begins Lecture Series.
Samuel Clemens joked in one of his lectures that he has met "uncommonplace characters...Bunyan, Martin Luther, Milton, and...others, but it's not stretchign to say that he knew just about everyone famous between the Civil War and World War I. By 1892, his social network had grown so large that eleven-year-old Jean Clemens, impressed that her parents had received a dinner invitation from Germany's Emperor Wilhelm II, remarked, "Why papa, if it keeps going on like this, pretty soon there won't be anybody left for you to get acquainted with but God." yet social Sam Clemens was more than a famous guy who knew other famous folks: from the start of his career as Mark Twain, his writings grew from and through interactions with others. This illustrated lecture traces the impact of that sociability on some of his most important works.
Judith Yaross Lee, Distinguished Professor Emerita at Ohio University (Athens, OH), studies American humor and other popular discourses in interdisciplinary contexts. Among the 5 books and 60 articles that she has published are Twain's Brand: Humor in Contemporary American Culture (2012), showing how Mark Twain pioneered contemporary practices in stand-up comedy and comic brand management, and Garrison Keillor: A Voice of America (1991), the first analysis of this major comic performer and writer. Current projects include Seeing MAD: Essay s on Mad Magazine's History and Legacy from Cover to Fold-IN (co-edited with John Bird) and a revised history of American comic rhetoric, American Humor and Matters of Empire, also the theme of a 2020 Quarry Farm Symposium.